HOW MUCH HAVE YOU BEEN FORGIVEN?
How do you think of your own sin? Do you think you are a “good person” and just mess up sometimes, or do you think you’re kind of “bad” and mess up often? Do you think that God sees us each differently according to how “bad” or sinful we are? Does God measure how much forgiveness He must give out to us depending on how good or bad our pasts are?
Perhaps, you have the idea that when we first come into a relationship with God He thinks of some, “Hmm, this person is a pretty good person, they only need a little forgiveness and grace because they aren’t too bad.” Or for others perhaps you assume that He thinks, “Wow, this person has had a bad past and made a lot of poor decisions, so I need to give out a lot of forgiveness to him/her.”
Let us examine this parable in the book of Luke, chapter 7:
A Sinful Woman Anoints Jesus
36Then one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37When a sinful woman from that town learned that Jesus was dining there, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume. 38As she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair. Then she kissed His feet and anointed them with the perfume. 39When the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would know who this is and what kind of woman is touching Him—for she is a sinner!”40But Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, Teacher,” he said. 41“Two men were debtors to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they were unable to repay him, he forgave both of them. Which one, then, will love him more?” 43“I suppose the one who was forgiven more,” Simon replied. “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. 44And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give Me water for My feet, but she wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not greet Me with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing My feet since I arrived. 46You did not anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with perfume. 47Therefore I tell you, because her many sins have been forgiven, she has loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
48Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49But those at the table began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50And Jesus told the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
What should our response to this parable be? Should we consider if we have sinned “much” or sinned “little” and see what category we fall into? Should we examine our past and see if we have had a rough past or have grown up in church and always been a “good person”?
If the Holy Spirit has illuminated this passage for you, you will see that it is not a matter of who has more or less sin. We are all born into sin and ALL fall short of God’s glory.
ROMANS 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
It does not matter what sins you have committed, and it doesn’t matter how many. It is not a comparison of who committed the “worse” sin because all sin is an offense against a Holy God. Jesus died for the liar just as much as he died for the murderer. The important point that we see in this story shared in the Gospel of Luke is that there are two kinds of people:
(1) the person who thinks they are good in their own self and therefore do not need
(2) the person who acknowledges their sin, repents and shows gratitude towards their
This parable presents a great lesson we can learn by observing a person who actually understood the gravity of their sin and was grateful towards God who forgave the unpayable debt they incurred against a Holy God.
On the other hand, Simon the Pharisee, though his sin may not have been as obvious as the woman’s sin, had sin. Simon was not sinless, but rather sinful, just as anyone. The issue at hand is that he did not only think he wasn’t “that bad” compared to the woman, but he did not fully grasp what a gift the forgiveness of God was to his life and consequently he was not even grateful for the forgiveness given to him from God:
44“Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give Me water for My feet, but she wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not greet Me with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing My feet since I arrived. 46You did not anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with perfume. 47Therefore I tell you, because her many sins have been forgiven, she has loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Simon assumed that the woman was still in her sin because of her appearance and judged on her former past. He was unable to see that the grace of God is so big , vast and unimaginable to man that once a person repents, all their sins are immediately forgiven, no matter how “big” their sins are in accordance to human standards.
So, we see that each person’s sin is not accounted as big or small in front of a Holy God. When we do not fully grasp this truth we are in danger of thinking of ourselves as a “good person” on our own accord, as Simon the Pharisee did. By doing so, we minimize our sin, and thereby belittle the gift of salvation.
Simon was guilty of this error and he did not realize that his sin was just as sinful as this woman whom he looked down on. He did not realize that Jesus had come to die for his sin in the same way that he came for that woman’s sin. He did not see his own life and sins as in desperate need of forgiveness and grace because he supposed he wasn’t doing too bad on his own. This is the clear example of a person that believes their works are meritorious and that they do not need the righteousness of Christ and the grace of God through faith.
Contrarily, the “sinful woman” was not more sinful than Simon and she wasn’t more sinful than you or me. This woman grasped the truth. She fully understood her sinful state and her destiny without God. She fully understood that without the Messiah, the wages of her sin would be death. Sin…any sin, any amount, any “type”, is deserving of death. She understood that without Jesus she would be lost, that without Jesus she would not have salvation and without His mercy and grace she would be a slave to sin for eternity. She understood that she did nothing to deserve this love of God. She understood the depths of God’s love for her, the vastness of his forgiveness. She understood what a gift she was receiving in His pardon and her response was the fruit of a humble heart overflowing with love and thankfulness towards the one who gave her this new life.
So, let’s examine our own hearts. When you think of yourself apart from God (or even as a Christian), how do you view yourself? Do you relate to Simon the Pharisee? How good do you think you are when standing in front of a Holy God?
If you are not a Christian, perhaps this is the first time you understand what it means to have sin and to need the Savior. We encourage you to read the book of John in the Bible to learn more about who Jesus is and the salvation He gives freely to all who believe and come to Him.
If you are a Christian, take this as a word from God and examine your heart. Do you come to the Lord daily with gratitude and humility? Does your life bear fruit of a forgiven sinner who is overflowing with love towards Him? Do you truly think and believe that you are lost without Him and that there is absolutely no good in you apart from Him? If you find that you lack gratitude for His forgiveness or that you depend on your own “good”, we lovingly exhort you to repent of this mindset. Remember all that He has done for you and that there is truly nothing good inside of us and our works do not earn us anything. The only good in us is the fruit of His Holy Spirit and His presence working inside of us.
In doing this, you will open the door to understanding more fully the love of Jesus for you and what His salvation truly means. Ask Him daily to remind you and help you understand your need for Him. The more we understand our sin and our hopelessness without him, the more grateful we are, the more humble we are and the more deeply in love we can go in our relationship with Him. Understanding the vastness of your sin, its repercussions and the love of God towards humanity by the forgiving of our sins in accordance with the riches of His grace, will only catapult you into greater depths of gratitude and love for Jesus as well as a greater passion to preach His good news to others.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Joel 2:32 And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD promised, among the remnant called by the LORD.
Isaiah 55:6 Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.
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